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"Duryodhana said, 'For what reason, O chief of the Bharatas, wilt thou not slay Sikhandin even if thou beholdest him approach thee as a foe with arms upraised? Thou hadst, O mighty-armed one, formerly told me,--I will slay the Panchalas with the Somakas'--O son of Ganga, tell me, O grandsire (the reason of the present reservation),'

"Bhishma said, 'Listen, O Duryodhana, to this history, with all these lords of earth, as to why I will not slay Sikhandin even if I behold him in battle! My father, Santanu, O king, was celebrated over all the world. O bull of the Bharata race, that king of virtuous soul paid his debt to nature in time, Observing my pledge, O chief of the Bharatas, I then installed my brother, Chitrangada, on the throne of the extensive kingdom of the Kurus. After Chitrangada's demise, obedient to the counsels of Satyavati, I installed, according to the ordinance, Vichitravirya as king. Although young in age, yet being installed duly by me, O monarch, the virtuous Vichitravirya looked up to me in everything. Desirous of marrying him, I set my heart upon procuring daughters from a suitable family. (At that time) I heard, O thou of mighty arms, that three maidens, all unrivalled for beauty, daughters of the ruler of Kasi, by name Amva, Amvika, and Amvalika would select husbands for themselves, and that all the kings of the earth, O bull of the Bharata's race, had

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been invited. Amongst those maidens Amva was the eldest, Amvika the second, while the princess Amvalika, O monarch, was the youngest. Myself repairing on a single car to the city of the ruler of Kasi, I beheld, O thou of mighty arms, the three maidens adorned with ornaments and also all the kings of the earth invited thither on the occasion. Then, O bull of Bharata's race, challenging to battle all those kings who were ready for the encounter, I took up those maidens on my car and repeatedly said unto all the kings assembled there these words--Bhishma, the son of Santanu, is carrying away by force these maidens. Ye kings, strive ye all to the best of your power for rescuing them! By force do I take them away, ye bulls among men, making you spectators of my act!--At these words of mine those rulers of the earth sprang up with weapons unsheathed. And they angrily urged the drivers of their cars, saying, 'Make ready the cars,--Make ready the cars.' And those monarchs sprang up to the rescue, with weapons unsheathed; car-warriors on their cars resembling masses of clouds, those fighting from elephants, on their elephants, and others on their stout and plump steeds. Then all those kings, O monarch, surrounded me on all sides with a multitudinous number of cars. With a shower of arrows, I stopped their onrush on all sides and vanquished them like the chief of celestials vanquishing hordes of Danavas. Laughingly, with easiness I cut down the variegated standards, decked with gold, of the advancing kings, with blazing shafts, O bull of Bharata's race! In that combat I overthrew their steeds and elephants and car-drivers, each with a single arrow. Beholding that lightness (of hand) of mine, they desisted (from the fight) and broke. And having vanquished all those rulers of the earth, I came back to Hastinapura, I then, O thou of mighty arms, made over those maidens, intending them for my brothers to Satyavati and represented unto her everything I had done.'"

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